Sewing Dresses for Africa

Pillowcase Dress by Lindsay Wilkes from The Cottage Mama.

Sewing Dresses for Africa

I just returned from one of my very favorite events of the year, Baby Lock Common Threads. Common Threads is an event for a fairly small group of people that are sponsored by Baby Lock Sewing and Embroidery Machines. It always feels like a family reunion because I consider these women a big part of my sewing family and it’s a thrill to get to see them at least one time a year and catch up with everyone. There are ladies from all aspects of the sewing industry……quilting, sewing, fashion, embroidery, home decor sewing and more!

Pillowcase Dress by Lindsay Wilkes from The Cottage Mama.

This time I had the pleasure of leading one of the three classes that was planned for the event. Each year we try to do some sort sewing for charity and this year we were dedicated to sewing dresses for the organization called ‘Dresses for Africa‘. You may or may not be familiar with this organization, but this is a group founded by Rachel O’Neill that sends dresses over to little girls that would otherwise have no clothes to wear. They focus their efforts on some things for boys and women as well, but the main focus is the little girls. Rachel flew in to speak to the group before we began the class and is was very impactful to hear her story. Their motto ‘We aren’t just sending dresses, we are sending HOPE!”….. really touches me.

I know how much my girls love to put on new clothes, especially something special made by Mama and I know that these little girls over in Africa have never had this experience. I know some people don’t particularly understand sewing for children since they grow so fast and will hardly be able to wear a piece for more than a year. But to me, sewing clothes is not about the piece of clothing itself, it’s about the feeling a child gets when receiving a handmade piece of clothing. A piece of handmade love. And I like to think that my children might not remember every detail of birthdays, holidays or special events, but they will remember the way they felt and possibly what they wore.

So if we can be a part of sending a little handmade love and letting these sweet girls know that they matter and that they are special, I am more than happy to sew my heart out for them. And this last week at Common Threads, we did just that! We created 40 dresses to send over to Africa. And these weren’t just any ordinary pillowcase dresses, these were machine appliquéd, high-quality pillowcases sewn by some of the best women (and one man) in the industry.

Pillowcase Dress by Lindsay Wilkes from The Cottage Mama.

So here is a little closer view of the applique that we created for our pillowcase dresses. This design can be found over at Planet Applique. I use a lot of their machine applique designs because I know they are designs that I can trust. They always stitch out so nicely are really easy to follow one step to the next. I thought this little bird was just so sweet (we used the 5×7 size)! I took pictures step-by-step while creating this sample so I can share a more specific machine applique tutorial with you very soon.

Pillowcase Dress by Lindsay Wilkes from The Cottage Mama.

To create the pillowcase, we used my 15-Minute Pillowcase Tutorial. The only difference was that we did not sew the seam at the short end of the pillowcase since we would have just cut that off to create the dress. And I reduced the thin accent fabric down to 1.5″ wide.

Pillowcase Dress by Lindsay Wilkes from The Cottage Mama.

You can find the full pillowcase dress tutorial by clicking HERE. I really like this variation because it has encased elastic in the front and the back of the dress, so there is not ribbon threaded through the dress. I figured it wouldn’t be good if we made a dress that involved threading a ribbon since it might come out and then the little girls wouldn’t know how to fix it.

Pillowcase Dress by Lindsay Wilkes from The Cottage Mama.

Also, you can find the mailing address for where to send your dresses on the pillowcase dress tutorial page. Again, you can click here for the printable version.

Pillowcase Dress by Lindsay Wilkes from The Cottage Mama.

 

Pillowcase Dress by Lindsay Wilkes from The Cottage Mama.

Picture above via @thecottagemama on Instagram

So here are the dresses that we created! I think we ended up with about 40 and then my sample as well. The ladies did such a great job. Some of them had never done machine applique, so I was really proud of them for completing their first one and then turning it into a dress! Not everyone finished by the end of class, but they made sure to work on these sweet little dresses during our open sewing time to get them finished. Riley Blake Designs donated all the fabric (which was so incredibly generous). And how cool is that sign? I don’t think I’ve ever seen my name that large…….’Lindsay’s Dress Shop’. This was such a fun surprise to see when I walked into the sewing room!

So what do you think? Would you like to join in the fun and sew some Little Dresses for Africa? You don’t have to make yours as detailed as we did at Common Threads. You could use your basic store-bought pillowcase and create an super-quick dress or you can get creative and add in some trim or do something a little more fancy. They just ask that we don’t use anything with buttons or zippers since they have no way of fixing these things if they break. I think they will be replaying my class online soon, so I’ll let you know when the class is available. But if you would like to get involved with Dresses for Africa, please do and spread the word to all your sewing sisters! They need all the help they can get!!

To read more about Little Dresses for Africa….please click HERE.

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2 Comments

  1. Its very beautiful

  2. Hi,
    It’s a nice idea !! I like it.
    Do you think it’s possible to share in france ? And how to send it ?
    Thank you so much for all shares,
    See you soon,
    Stéphanie.